Czech Republic v Scotland: Scots to confront ‘new players’ as the game proceeds

Scotland will face a Czech Republic squad made up with “new players and staff members” after both nations and Uefa confirmed the game will go ahead.

The Czechs announced on Friday that Monday’s Nations League game was off after a Covid-19 outbreak.

Tomas Soucek and Patrik Schick were told to self isolate following contact with a backroom staff member who tested positive for the virus.

But the Scots will travel to Olomouc on Sunday as planned.

Chief executive Ian Maxwell said the SFA “were as surprised as Uefa” after Friday’s statement, which came shortly after Scotland’s group opening 1-1 draw with Israel.

  • Scotland draw opener with Israel

“We have received categorical assurance that the match goes ahead,” said Maxwell. “Furthermore, the Czech Republic have confirmed they will be able to fulfil their obligations to the match and, more importantly, to the stringent Covid-19 testing regime that is sacrosanct to ensure the safety of our players and staff.”

And Maxwell told BBC Radio Scotland’s Sportsound: “Until Uefa tells us otherwise, we’re preparing for the game to go ahead. The contact time we will have as a squad in Czech Republic is very limited.

“I’ve not heard from anyone officially at the Czech FA. Uefa spoke to the Czech FA on Saturday morning.”

The Czechs’ plans for Friday’s match in Slovakia, a 3-1 win, were affected after West Ham midfielder Soucek and RB Leipzig striker Schick were told to quarantine and the Czech FA delayed the departure for Bratislava by 24 hours while the entire squad was retested. Players then made the 200-mile journey by road after splitting up into small groups.

After the game, the Czech FA announced the team would not be facing the Scots “due to representatives’ decision and the current situation with the Covid-19”. The statement added: “The national team ends current preparations with the immediate effect straight after the win against Slovakia.”

Uefa stated on Saturday morning Monday’s game would be played as planned and Steve Clarke’s Scotland players held their scheduled training session.

The Czechs later confirmed the match would be played, but added their “team will consist from (sic) new players and staff members”.

Uefa last week outlined principles for scenarios where Covid-19 impacted fixtures, stating that a game would go ahead as long as a team had at least 13 players available, including a goalkeeper.

‘A sad mess’ – analysis

Czech Radio’s Vit Pohanka on BBC Sportsound

It’s a mess, it’s a sad mess. This is happening even though the Czech Republic has got far fewer infections or deaths by Covid-19 per capita than the United Kingdom. The precautions are causing this problem.

None of the players have to this point been infected. The top players cannot play. There will be a Czech national team but the question is who the heck will be in that team?

Scotland ‘gone further than Uefa asked’

Dr John MacLean, Scotland team doctor on BBC Sportsound

We’ve had a tight bubble with players and staff and we’ve gone further than Uefa asked. Everyone has been tested four times over the last 10 days, including this morning.

We will take two buses to the airport for our charter flight, then it’s a tarmac transfer to our hotel, with no hotel staff mixing with our group and our own chef preparing all of the food, while we won’t train at the stadium over there.

The only contact our party will have with anyone will be with the players on the pitch.

We take comfort from the Czech Republic providing a new team. That takes away some of the questions, like why were only two players asked to isolate, were they the only ones to have close contact with the official who tested positive? No matter how much we socially distance here, it would be difficult to justify that.

We were very concerned to learn the Czech players had been dispersed, would they be going home to their families and coming back? We had asked Uefa before this news if they could assure us that any new players joining the squad would be tested.

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